Tried & Tested

Flydubai B737-800 economy

13 May 2011 by BusinessTraveller

Background Flydubai started operations in June 2009 and operates a fleet of B737-800 next-generation aircraft to destinations within about 4.5 hours of Dubai. Its initial order was for 54 planes each configured with 189 economy seats.

Check-in Online-check-in is not available and I arrived at Dubai’s Terminal 2 about one and a half hours before my 0730 flight to Doha. Terminal 2 is small, handling only about 10 per cent of the airport’s traffic and is the home of Flydubai and other budget carriers. Compared with the other terminals it feels more like a large warehouse as it is simple in design and is on one level.

There were several Flydubai check-in desks open, all with short queues. As I had no hold luggage I just wished that online or check-in kiosks were available. It took about fifteen minutes to get to the front of the queue.

For those checking in luggage this is charged for at AED 50 for 20kg, AED60 for 30kg and AED100 for 40kg if booked in advance. At the airport it is more expensive (from AED 12 per KG) so book in advance online up to 4 hours before the flight. A maximum of three bags is allowed for your pre-booked allowance but no one piece can weigh more than 32kg.

Flydubai has three ticket types, entitling passengers to no changes, paid-for changes and free changes. The free to change ticket includes a 20kg baggage allowance.

I proceeded to security where the queues took about ten minutes to get through. There was no need to remove laptops and as a result only small trays for incidentals. I put my jacket in one and the phone fell out before reaching the other side. I was lucky to recover it. The departure area was surprisingly comfortable with a good number of food outlets and a duty free shop.

Boarding Boarding started 30 minutes before departure. There are no jet bridges so we were bussed to the plane. Seating is pre-allocated so there is no great scramble for seats although overheads bins tended to get filled. The crew were very helpful in storing the extra bags in a large cupboard by the galley. Seats are either allocated at check-in or can be pre-booked for a fee.

The seat The cabin is fitted in a 3-3 configuration. Most of the seats cost either UAE 5 to prebook although you can pay more for one with extra legroom. A standard seat has a pitch or between 74-79cm with the extra legroom having up to 22cm more. The seats have a small recline.

I paid an extra AED100 for the extra legroom and secured seat 1C. This was a good seat as you could stretch your left leg straight in front of you in front of the wardrobes but I did tend to get hit by bags when people were boarding. As it was a new plane the seat were modern, comfortable and covered in a blue/orange cloth.

The flight We pulled away from the stand about ten minutes late at 0740 and were airborne some 15 minutes later. Within ten minutes the crew were coming down the aisle serving refreshments. These were sensibly priced at AED5 for soft drinks, AED 15 for beer, AED20 for wine, snacks and sandwiches from AED5-20 and a meal deal including a sandwich, drink and snack from AED25. It was a short flight - about 40 minutes - and the crew just about made it to the end of the aisle before the seat belt lights came on.

The seats also had seatback touch sensitive screens. In my row the screen was fixed to the bulkhead. After takeoff you were required to select whether you were over or under 16 years of age. There were a number of options on the screen which included Pay Movies (AED25), Pay TV (AED5), Free Music, Free Games, Flight Map, Destination weather forecast and the ability to order refreshments or duty free. 

On this short flight you were unlikely to pay to watch part of a movie and there was no spare time for a food order either but I imagine these services are popular on the longer flights.     

Arrival The flight landed about ten minutes late. The plane was parked on the far side of the airport so it was a fairly long bus ride to the terminal building. Once inside the queues for immigration were quite short and I paid my 100 Qatari Riyals for my arrival visa.   

Verdict Modern planes, good service and reasonably priced food. It’s worth booking your seat in advance. The only downside is the lack of online or kiosk check-in if you are travelling with hand luggage only.   

Fact File

Configuration 3-3

Seat Pitch 28.5”

Price A semi-flexible ticket (allowing paid-for changes) starts from AED 630.

Contact flydubai.com

Julian Gregory

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